viernes, febrero 29, 2008

The Colón through 2011: fragile planning

I recently wrote an analysis of the controversial press conference conducted by the City Chief of Government, Mauricio Macri, and by the Teatro Colón's Director General, Horacio Sanguinetti. I promised then a complementary article on the announced activity of 2008 through 2011; this is it.

I felt at the time that to prepare four years of planning in the two months that have elapsed since Sanguinetti's assumption felt like an improbable stunt; I also thought that it was quite unnecessary: the public wanted to know the details of 2008 and of course what would happen with the Master Plan, but there was no hurry in having the seasons of 2009, 2010 and 2011. In the state of total uncertainty that the Colón is living through, you just can't take seriously the announcements, with their pretentions of exact dates to boot, and of course without any contracts made.

2008: this is the only credible part. To no one's surprise, it confirmed that there will be no opera season, as Sanguinetti said even before he took the post. My article "The Colón in deep trouble" (Dec. 2, 2007) specified the alleged reasons, which have feet of clay and remain profoundly unconvincing. But I want to stress a common-sense point: if an incomplete orchestra (due to the dismissal of over-65-years-old personnel) can't play operas, it follows it can't do concerts either. There is a logical way to save the day : put under a limited contract the needed players to fulfill vacancies; but Macri incredibly ruled that out in the press conference!

Most of the concerts of the Colón Orchestra ("Orquesta Estable") will be led by its new Principal Conductor, Carlos Vieu, unfortunately with mostly uninteresting programs. This year without staged opera was ideal to offer valuable unknown complete operas in concert, thus mitigating the disappointment of opera goers. One good point: most concerts will be offered at the Auditorio de Belgrano, the only reasonable acoustics we have for symphonic material now that the Colón is closed. I single out the following as valuable occasions: a Bruckner night (Vieu); an homage to octogenarian conductor Franz-Paul Decker, and Mahler's Third (perhaps -for Stefan Lano hasn't accepted coming as an invited conductor).

The Buenos Aires Philharmonic is welcoming back Arturo Diemecke as Principal Conductor, and he will carry the bulk of the decent programming, far indeed from the innovation and imagination of Julio Palacio's ideas last year . Homages will be paid to Messiaen, Rimsky-Korsakov, Vaughan Williams and Ginastera. Decker will do two concerts, and other foreign conductors will be Ken Jean, Rossen Milanov and Guenther Neuhold (all known here). Pianists Chun Wang, Peter Donohoe, Dimitri Vassilakis, Evgeny Mikhailov, Akiko Ebi and Muza Rubackyte, violinists Ilya Kaler and Shlomo Mintz and cellist Nathalie Clein (all heard here before except Kaler) are the foreign contingent of soloists. Premieres will be few and unimportant. Sanguinetti apparently approves of the Coliseo for concerts : the first four of the subscription series will happen there, though he rules out opera at that venue (many believe that the problem hasn't been mentioned officially: the Coliseo's rental price is considered stiff).

The Ballet, under Guido De Benedetti, will have a very conservative season , mostly at the Opera, a new venue for our dancers. There will be six programmes and I'm afraid I find nothing attractive in them. No foreign soloists are announced. Paradoxically, the Colón Chamber Opera will give us almost the only items of some interest in staged performances, at a newly refurbished Teatro 25 de Mayo: Haydn's "Il mondo della luna", Purcell's "The Fairy Queen" (with the Colón Art Institute), Rousseau's "Le devin du village". The Center for Experimentation announces six activities; only two attract me: the Ensemble Nuove Forme Sonore in Nono and Berio, and the premiere of Lambertini's "Cenicientaaaaa!!!!!".

2009: an opera season is announced; but the operative question hasn't been answered: where? Macri confirmed that the Colón will stay closed all year. And Sanguinetti refuses the only viable alternative, the Coliseo. But big operas are nevertheless programmed: "Aida", "Lohengrin", "Turandot", the premiere of Dvorák's "Rusalka"; of the rest I will only mention "Pelléas et Mélisande". The rest is standard, apart from Gandini's "La ciudad ausente". Triple casts are announced to accomodate as many Argentine singers as possible; foreign artists are few : of special interest Sylvie Valayre, Francesca Patané and Herbert Lippert. Again the Colón Chamber Opera will probably be more interest, for it announces the early Mozart operas, such as "Lucio Silla" and "Mitridate". The Ballet season will be more abundant : nine shows; of special value two well-known but important pieces by Cranko: "Eugen Onieguin" and "Romeo and Juliet".

2010: if it's true that we'll have the Colón back (many doubt it) there will be a big season there. I single out the premiere of Britten's "Billy Budd". Also, the revival of Cilea's "L'Arlesiana", "Parsifal", "Der Rosenkavalier", "Falstaff" and Tchaikovsky's "Eugen Onieguin" (the opera, not the ballet). Some stars are announced: Susan Graham, Maria Guleghina, Dolora Zajic, Anthony Michaels Moore, Norma Fantini.

2011: a hackneyed season with run-of-the-mill titles except "Porgy and Bess" (but not, as it should be, with black singers: the style requires it), the revival of Mascagni's "Isabeau", Berg's "Lulu" and Bizet's "Les pecheurs de perles". José Cura will put on quite a show, singing, conducting and producing "Cav-Pag".

Para el Buenos Aires Herald

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